Epping aiming high

Leigh Judd is among those to re-sign. (Shawn Smits)

Tara Murray

Epping has added experience on and off the field as it targets a finals appearance in Northern Football League division 2.

Having won just one game in division 2 in 2019, after stepping up a division weeks out from the season, the Pingers have looked to build on their strong young core and take that next step.

Having added a number of key names before the 2020 season, which was cancelled due to COVID-19, the Pingers have looked to add some more experience for the 2021 season.

Pingers coach Aaron Johnson said they were just waiting for those new players to put pen to paper and they would likely make some announcements in the coming weeks.

“We are heading in the right direction,” he said.

“We’re picking up four to five players with experience. We’ve been recruiting to fill our needs.

“We’re looking to put a list together to play finals in 2021, that is our goal.

“With what have we recruited and guys like Jhye Baddeley-Kelly, James Tadd and Adrian Cirianni that we sourced last season, we’re pretty happy.”

Among the signings is a ruckman, to replace Joel Carter who has left the club and signed with division 2 rival Thomastown.

Johnson said the new ruckman would provide plenty of run around the ground.

He said many of those who are set to join the club already knew people in the club which would help make the transition easier.

He said besides the loss of Carter they had kept most of the group together and have announced a number of re-signings on their social media.

Off-field, the Pingers have appointed former Lower Plenty coach Jarrod Hart as a senior assistant coach to help Johnson and add some more experience.

They’ve also got Joel Norton on board as a strength and conditioning coach to help the young group step up.

Johnson said they had given the group things to work on over the break to bring back to the club as they try and close the gap between them and the top sides.

“We’ve had mental lapses in the past as they didn’t under the demand of senior football,” he said.

“They have been excellent junior footballers, but in the senior system when you’re playing agaisnt 26, 28 and 30-year-olds it’s a different experience.”

The Pingers have been back on the track for the last two weeks after being given the go ahead by council.

Johnson said while they had kept in contact during the lockdown, everyone was keen to get back on the track.

“It’s been about getting together and socialising,” he said.

“It’s good for the mental health after being locked down for a long time.”